DEMOCRACIES AND EXHIBITIONS
AN ADDRESS BY THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE EARL OF ELGIN
Chairman: The President, J. P. Pratt, Esq., K.C.
Thursday, November 17, 1938.
THE PRESIDENT: My Lord, Sir William, Gentlemen of The Empire Club: This is the week of the Royal Winter Fair and we are privileged to have as guests at our head table today the Captains of some of the visiting Army Tea-ms. Unfortunately, the Captain of the Chilean Team is ill and cannot attend, but I purpose introducing to you the various Captains who are sitting at the head table. First, we have Captain Camilo Chavez, of Cuba. (Applause) Then we have Captain Daniel Corry, of Eire. (Applause) You will have noticed in the press that Captain Arnando Dillarreal, of the Mexican Team, sustained a fall last night and is confined to hospital. He is ably represented by Lieutenant Zaoet, who has just stood before you. (Applause) Then, from our "good neighbour," we have Major John T. Cole. (Applause) And, finally, we have the Captain of the Canadian Team, which is acting as host this year, Captain Stuart C. Bate. (Applause)
I do not think I should close the introductions without reminding you (though this is not an introduction) that we are honoured today by having as our guest at the head table that ever-youthful Canada's "grand old man," Sir William Mulock. (Applause)
Canadians have a particular interest in our guest of honour, the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, because his great grandfather, Lord Durham, and his grandfather, the Earl of Elgin, each filled the office of GovernorGeneral of this country. It was during his grandfather's term that the Parliament Buildings at Montreal were burned by a group of rioters, and the Earl narrowly escaped serious injury. I hasten to assure His Lordship that Canadians have changed and it is our hope that instead of dodging missiles during his present stay he will feel he is among his "ain folk."
His Lordship is the tenth Earl of Elgin and Kincardine. He was educated at Eton and Oxford and served with distinction in the Great War. He is His Majesty's Lieutenant of the County of Fife. 'The list of high offices which he has held and many of which he still holds shows he is most keenly interested in the welfare of his fellowmen. He is a Director of the Royal Bank of Scotland, and he is the President of the Scottish Development Council and President of the Empire Exhibition at Glasgow. He was Grand Master Mason of Scotland from 1921 to 1924 and he was Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland from 1925-26 But His Lordship's visit to Canada is in no way connected with any of the high offices which he holds. Instead, he is here as one who is deeply interested in farming and in livestock, to act as a Judge of cattle at the Royal Winter Fair. It is my honour to introduce to you, Gentlemen, the Right Honourable The Earl of Elgin and Kincardine. (Applause)
THE HONOURABLE THE EARL OF ELGIN: Mr. President and Gentlemen: I wish to thank you immediately for the very kind and warm welcome which you have given to me this afternoon. Your President has spoken of the extremely warm welcome given on one occasion to my grandfather, but I can truthfully say that the welcome that you have given to me ever since I landed at Montreal on Saturday morning has been no less warm and no less enthusiastic, though perhaps in a different way to that which he received.
It has always been an inspiration to me that my grandfather and great grandfather were definitely connected with the building up of Canadian history and that my father was born in Montreal. One of the first things that I did on landing on this occasion was to take my eldest daughter to see the place in which her grandfather was born, the room in which he first saw light. So coming on today to Toronto it is quite right and fitting that your Chairman should remind me that my official duties are the humble but the interesting ones of being a judge of cattle. But so enthusiastic and so hospitable has been your welcome that I have not yet been able to get down to work.
With that history I do feel there is a duty upon one to carry on that tradition so far as one can, so far as one is able to carry on that tradition and keep the interest between this great Dominion and the Mother Country and no one, I feel certain, can board one of the steamers of the C.P.R. or any other line which operates between this continent and our country, and land as we did at Montreal, without a feeling of admiration for those who set out in the early times-Champlain, Cabot and Jacques Cartier and many others, who set out in their small ships not knowing exactly where they were going-but as the result of that energy and enterprise we see today the great Dominion of Canada. Further, no one can board one of the steamers of the present day and land in Montreal without a feeling of great gratitude also for the efficiency and comfort of these present services.
On this particular visit that we are making, we came by way of the St. Lawrence and we actually touched at Father Point at eleven o'clock on the 11th of November, and there was in the minds and in the hearts of everyone on board the Duchess of Atholl, a feeling of intense and deep gratitude, not only for the safe journey which had been accomplished, but for the courage, inspiration and service of the past and a great gratitude for peace.
In these anxious times that we are now living in it would be improper of me, coming as I do as a visitor to your country, to indulge in anything in the way of advice on the political question, but undoubtedly there are before us great issues which each one of us as individuals and as members of the community must realize and face up to. No one who was present in any of our big cities on the other side and more particularly in London, can have failed to be impressed with what took place at the end of September. We had trenches dug in our parks. Part of our underground railway system was shut up in order that it might be properly prepared as a protection base for refuge. We had the issue of gas masks. We had our windows blocked and sandbagged and we took part in that kind of operation at the same time realizing that the preparations, impressive, large and effective as they were up to a point, were terribly short of what they should have been. We were brought face to face with a realization of the very near proximity of a world war. I think that two things which we realized out of that, the two things that came uppermost to our minds when we were faced with that were: Are we really a civilized people? Is there a God that judges the world? Are we to let loose all these force's of pandemonium or can we live together with our neighbours in peace?
That was the real issue before us and at that time a move was taken which, though we may not agree with all that was said and all that was done then, and all that has followed, still was a move for which we cannot but be thankful and grateful deep down in our hearts. It was a move of personal contact, personal contact of the responsible statesmen, in the person of the Prime Minister himself, who flew to the other country, to Germany, to make personal contact with the Fuehrer, with Herr Hitler, and by so doing he made that personal contact with the Dictator, but he did a great deal more. He made personal contact with the German nation. (Applause) And I do think, Gentlemen, that it is a most remarkable thing and perfectly certain that not only in this country, not only in Great Britain and France, but in Germany, there is a very large body of public opinion who really are intent and determined on peace.
(Applause) Gentlemen, one cannot help admiring the efficiency with which Germany has marshalled itself during the past five years. One cannot help admiring the way in which the preparation of machines and materials has been made. One cannot help feeling that there is something wonderful in the way in which the nation and its spirit have risen to the occasion, but even now, after the crisis has passed I think we must still remain anxious. Anxious, yes, but as I said a few moments ago, there were two dominant thoughts in our minds and the second was: Is there a God that judges the earth?
God moves in a mysterious way. We cannot understand but we do feel in our country, and I am sure you feel also in Canada, as in many other nations of the world, if we hold fast to the great commandment to love God and love our neighbour, we shall eventually come right and we shall not be ashamed. (Applause) The crisis will help us. It will help us in this way, I think, certainly on our side of the Atlantic, and possibly on this side also, there has been a tendency in recent times for the large majority to stand by as spectators. They are quite happy so long as the work is done and they are quite happy to look on and see it being done, but I do feel that the crisis has made us face these things and has revealed a new spirit in the nation, a new spirit of wishing to do, each one his share in the service of the state. I think that this new spirit has also been extended to bring together those nations who think alike and whose governments are democracies. It has helped to bring them closer together, to understand one another toward making for the ultimate end. What is the ultimate end? Not to build up a vast defence protection, not to build large vessels of destruction, not to build up an army and create an air force. Those are the means to the end. The end is fuller, freer trade between the nations, commerce and mutual help, and out of that a freer, fuller and better life for the individual and the state.
(Applause) In thinking out what I should say to you today I looked back in some of my grandfather's papers and I came across this rather striking note in a letter from him to Lord Grey, which happens to be dated the 8th of November, 1849--almost exactly ninety years from today: "You have a great opportunity before you. Obtain reciprocity for us and I venture to predict that you will be able shortly to point to this hitherto turbulent colony with satisfaction, in illustration of the tendency of self-government and freedom of trade to beget contentment and material progress. Canada will remain attached to England, though tied to her neither by the golden links of protection or by the old-fashioned method of colonial office jobbing and chicane."
How true is that today.
I have just come, as your Chairman indicated, from an effort which we have made this year in Scotland, an effort of bringing together the different parts of the Empire in order to show how those different parts can act together, pull together as an influence for good and peace in the world, to show how one can help the other by making up the deficiencies, and I would like to acknowledge, here and now, the very great help given to me, both personally, by the High Commissioner, Mr. Vincent Massey, and also by the Dominion of Canada, in the representation which we had in the Empire Exhibition in Glasgow. Canada's lead helped the other Dominions to, take part in this Exhibition and quite properly, her pavilion not only was about double the size of the other Dominions, but was placed in the middle of the Dominion Avenue. So I should wish to thank the Dominion for all the help which they gave in making the Empire Exhibition of Glasgow a worthy exhibition, an exhibition which showed the vigour and life which came from all the different parts of this great Empire to which we belong, and which put them in one picture before the people of England and Scotland and all the visitors whom we were able to entertain there, in a way that has never been seen since the big Exhibition at Wembley, and we are satisfied--I speak with humility--we are satisfied that we gave a better show than they had at Wembley. I think it is not without justice that I should say so because on our last day of the Exhibition, the 28th of October, we had within the gates 364,092 people, which exceeded the highest record for a day's attendance at Wembley by something like 40,000.
Now, it is perhaps an impertinence of me to speak of exhibitions in Canada because you have realized for so long what the force of an exhibition can be, what good it can do in being a point of contact and in promoting trade and commerce. I have had great encouragement from the number of people who have said to me, "We are glad that we took part, that we took a stall in a pavilion in Glasgow. We have made interesting new contacts." Well, you have appreciated that for years in Canada and I should like again to quote from my grandfather to that effect. In saying farewell to Montreal in 1854, he used these words: "I shall remember the energy and patriotism which gathered in this city specimens of Canadian industry from all parts of the province for the World Fair, and which has been the means of rendering this magnificent conception of the illustrious Consort of our beloved Queen more serviceable to Canada than it has perhaps proved to any of the other of the communities which have been represented there."
That showed that in 1854 that spirit of enterprise was alive in Canada which is seen now year after year in the great Exhibition which you hold in this city in the month of August. I have never yet had the opportunity of visiting that fair, but for the last two years the Scottish Development Council, of which I am President, has had a stall there anal we know that it has been a benefit to us to have this link with the great fair in Toronto.
Well, in our Exhibition we have tried to associate history and development to give a visible demonstration of what the Empire is and what it can do. We had our Art Pavilion and in the Art Pavilion there was a collection which I think stands in history as unique as a collection of Scottish art in different ages. We had our two Palaces of Industry, and we tried to associate in them, and in the great pavilion put up by the United Kingdom, what science and research can do to help the lives of the citizens and the lives of the community; for instance, to show how by a study of food values health can be improved without bringing in the doctor; and to show how the lot of the coal miner can be improved and what are the wonderful by-products of coal in giving heat and light to the community.
We had steel in various forms, showing how science has produced the various forms from an ingot of steel down to the most expensive form of steel, the hairspring of a watch, and a comparison of the cost of a ton of those different forms of steel. Those are the kinds of pictures which are interesting and mark progress.
Then we had our hall of shipping, which was fitted with every implement of modern science and was commanded by an exCommander of the C.P.R., Captain MacQueen. Finally, at the end of this great pavilion we had a magnificent globe of blue depicting the earth floating in space. It was not apparent how it was supported, but there it floated and revolved, showing the different parts of the Empire, and the firmament studded with innumerable stars and having the gauzy, fleecy clouds floating in space throughout the atmosphere. That pavilion was one which always attracted attention and there was nearly always a queue waiting to get in.
But apart from these things which we tried to show we gathered in our Exhibition a number of conferences: One of the largest of these was an international conference of engineers which was presided over by Lord Weir. Their meeting covered two days and they had a long agenda, but in his opening remarks Lord Weir said something to this effect: It is almost a tragedy to think how the best brains of engineers anal of other scientists have been turned recently to think out weapons of destruction and death and how much better it would be if we could only turn those brains and that energy into the line of bringing something more of peace, something more of comfort into the life and activity of the human race.
It certainly was a striking speech and it was a note which I think we must all take to heart. It is a tragedy that we should be employed now in this year thinking out weapons of destruction, weapons for dealing death, but undoubtedly, if we are to uphold the principles of justice, the principles of truth, we must be able to defend ourselves.
I can remember at the time when I served as private secretary to my father, when he held the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies, that I saw some of the papers which came through minuted by the various officials. There was one case which I remember of a delinquency on the part of some one who should have been looking after the fishermen's interests, I think it was, in Newfoundland. The file had grown to about this depth. There were minutes by junior officials, by senior officials, showing what had been done and what had not been done, but right across the top page of a closely written minute by the Permanent Under-Secretary, was one sentence written in neat handwriting in red ink, to this effect: A fishing guard who fails to guard fishing cannot fail to be regarded as inefficient. And the initials under that, also in red, were W.S.C.--Winston Churchill.
Well, Gentlemen, that is an illustration that I think we would do well to take to heart today. If a fishing guard fails to guard his fishing he must be regarded as inefficient. In the same way, if we fail to guard our proper responsibility we shall be regarded as inefficient.
But I would repeat what I said a few minutes ago, we must not take defence as the final thing. It is an urgent need today but not the ultimate end. Gentlemen, it is not the ultimate end, but we have before us a responsibility, a responsibility which is going to bring us nearer together in the different parts of this great Empire to which we belong. As in the case of the Prime Minister in the first step which he took, personal contact was the thing that mattered, so personal contact is the thing which matters today. First of all, each of us as an individual must take his share, but those who are responsible for the leadership must also by their personal contacts be able to influence the nation and the world at large. It is, I think, one of the most remarkable developments of science how one voice can now be heard by millions of people all over the world. I felt a great responsibility today when your President said to me, "Now you are on the air." It is a very great responsibility to me and so it is to each one who is called upon to speak in public. But if we compare; as I think we must compare, the kind of impassioned appeal to which I expect many of us have listened, over the waters from Herr Hitler, realizing the thousands whom he is addressing in that way, we cannot but feel that there is given to one .man a tremendous power over the thoughts of his fellowmen, but I take comfort from this. I can remember, you can all remember, those talks to which we listened on Christmas evening which were given to us, year by year, by King George, the Fifth. He spoke as a father to his family and I venture to say that those words which he gave year by year, sitting in his chair at Sandringham, had a wider and a more lasting influence than the impassioned speeches of Herr Hitler. (Applause)
It is the personal contact which counts. Every one who turned on the dials on those occasions felt he was in the room with him. He was speaking to them as one who loved them and whom they loved.
Now, let me turn your thoughts back again once more to the farewell which was given by my grandfather to Quebec, when after eight years of strenuous work he left this Dominion and went back to his native home. In 1855 in a final speech at Quebec he said this: "I trust that I may hear from time to time of the steady growth and development of those principles of liberty and order, of manly independence in combination with respect for authority and law, of national life in harmony with British connection which it has been my earnest endeavour to implant and establish. I trust, too, that I shall hear that this House continues to be what I have ever sought to render it, a neutral territory on which persons of opposite opinions, political and religious, may meet together in harmony and may forget their differences for a season." (Applause) I could not help feeling when I read those words, is he listening today? I believe that all of us, and particularly, perhaps, those who leave the Mother Country and go to a new country, have a feeling of the value, the force of heredity and how it comes back, year after year, generation after generation, and I do believe that that spirit which he speaks of there in those words, which gives the opportunity of people of different opinions, whether religious or political, getting together and for a season forgetting those differences, is a spirit which is encouraged in this country. and on which a great deal depends.
Well, we have at this very moment a token of this kinship and friendship, from which very great results nay follow and I, as the son of a Canadian, rejoice that Canada is to be the medium or, if I may say so, the keystone of the royal arch of this great rapprochement of the forces of democracy. (Applause) I rejoice, I know you rejoice and I rejoice with you in the thought that Canada next year is to have a visit from Their Majesties, the King and Queen. From personal knowledge of the kind of welcome which you give to a humble citizen hike myself, I can foresee the burst of enthusiasm and welcome with which Their Majesties will be received when they arrive on this shore, and it will give them an opportunity, not only to get into personal contact with you, with their own subjects in this great Dominion, but it will give them the opportunity through your medium to get into contact with the great democracy to the south, the United States of America.
Canada has been for long the example of retaining individuality and at the same time demonstrating the importance of working together and living in harmony. We have in Canada the example of two traditions coming down in different streams with their own tradition, looking back to their traditions of home parentage, but with the same thoughts of loyalty to the country to which they belong. So I would repeat that I rejoice that Canada should have this opportunity of being the link of giving personal contact for our own King and Queen with the President of that great democracy, the United States of America. The one great thing of importance at this moment is that all these people like ourselves should act with a perfect understanding, a willingness to go together, hand in hand, in seeing that justice, honour and freedom are given effect to and respected. We cannot but look with anxiety when we see the flagrant way in which these things which we hold dear--freedom of speech, freedom of action-are disallowed in other countries, but here is an opportunity which is given to us each and everyone of us, whether citizens of England, Scotland, Canada, France or the United States, to join together, hand in hand, and heart to heart in an effort to show that freedom, truth and justice are what we stand for. (Applause-prolonged)
THE PRESIDENT: My Lord, it is not my intention to attempt to express in words the feelings which have been exhibited to you during the course of your remarks. I feel that I would spoil the atmosphere which has been created. I would, however, say this, that if the answer to your question, "I wonder if my grandfather is listening today?" is "Yes," then I suggest that he is now saying, "Well done." (Applause)
The meeting is adjourned.